CARE for Tourette Syndrome Act reintroduced by New Jersey Senator & Congressman

Congressman Albio Sires and Senator Bob Menendez have reintroduced the Collaborative Academic Research Efforts (CARE) for Tourette Syndrome Act to expand and further coordinate efforts towards research for Tourette syndrome.  This bill would promote activities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aimed at combating and diagnosing Tourette syndrome.

“Tourette syndrome continues to be a misunderstood disorder that is too often stigmatized, I am eager to reintroduce legislation that will work towards helping the lives of those affected by this syndrome,” stated Congressman Sires. “While symptoms can be suppressed overtime, too many individuals, particularly children, face the everyday challenge of trying to manage tics whether at school or in various social settings.  Expanded and collaborative research can teach us more about the cause and treatment of the disorder to help improve the lives of those individuals impacted by Tourette syndrome.”

“Today, we reintroduce the CARE for Tourette Syndrome Act to reinforce our commitment of increasing awareness and attention to combat this condition,” said Senator Menendez. “This legislation aims to expand our research efforts into this commonly misdiagnosed and misunderstood disease, allowing us to provide families and individuals with TS the security and peace of mind they desperately need – knowing we will continue to build on the progress already made at research centers like the one at Rutgers University, to better the lives of those it affects.  I look forward to working together with both the House and the Senate to find solutions that ensure this important bill is able to become law.”

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.  The NIH estimates that 200,000 Americans suffer from the most severe form of Tourette syndrome, while as many as one in 100 exhibit milder symptoms such as chronic motor or vocal tics.  Although symptoms continue for many through adulthood, the disorder generally peaks in severity during childhood.

Specifically, this bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a new system to collect data on Tourette syndrome, including the availability of medical and social services for individuals with Tourette syndrome and their families.  It would also instruct the Secretary of HHS to award grants to public or nonprofit private entities to establish new Collaborative Research Centers focused on Tourette syndrome research.  Such Centers would be established on a regional basis, and would conduct research, including investigations into the cause, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, control and treatment of Tourette syndrome.

Faith Rice, the executive director of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS), said the bill would bring added awareness to the disorder and could provide vital services to those coping with Tourette syndrome nationwide.

“It’s a population that continues to suffer from misdiagnosis, misunderstanding and the tremendous stigma that’s associated with Tourette syndrome,” Rice told The Jersey Journal. ”This puts a serious light on the disease, the disorder, and an awareness that we certainly could not create on own.”

Established in 2004, the Somerville, N.J.-based organization is the nation’s first center of excellence for Tourette syndrome and a loose model for what Sires and Menendez hope to replicate across the country. United States Men’s National Team goalie Tim Howard – a North Brunswick native who suffers from Tourette syndrome – sits on the organization’s Board of Directors.

Can you help me with my research?

I am currently an undergraduate student studying Special Educational Needs and Inclusion at Bishop Grosseteste University. I am currently working on my undergraduate dissertation and it is at this point that I need your help!

I am looking for pupils to participate in a research study looking at the relationship between Tourette Syndrome and education, and I am looking for students personal experiences to inform my study. If you are willing to take part I will ask you to fill out a questionnaire which outlines your experiences with Tourette Syndrome and your experiences in school. No one other than me will have access to any of your personal information, and all names will be removed in the research in order to keep you anonymous.

If you have any further questions before completing the questionnaire please feel free to email me at b1202163@student.bishopg.ac.uk.

I would be truly greatful to hear your experiences, as I want to fully explore any relationship that can be found between TS and education, to see if there’s anything that we can do to to make education better for everyone!

One of our researchers talks about life with her younger sister who lives with TS

This blog is written by Diana Beljaars a PhD researcher from Cardiff University in Wales. Diana is originally from Holland and speaks Dutch and English. In this blog article she writes poignantly about her relationship with her sister who has Tourettes Syndrome.

My Touretty sister and me

Tourette´s has been part of my life for many, many years, but came into it since early puberty. Before that time memories stretch back to winter afternoons playing in our play corner under the stairs and summer afternoons playing under the pine tree in the back yard of our parents´ house. Youth pictures in my album mimic the light-heartedness of my memories remarkably well. She was just my sister, annoying as little sisters are, but equally as cute…

Then, things changed. She started doing ‘funny things’ with her eyes and nose, and I remember her being taken to an unending list of doctors. As an unknowing sibling in early puberty herself, I felt her withdrawing from my life, being taken up by her condition.

I, as everyone else, couldn’t quite relate to her as I used to. The condition, that finally could be named Tourette syndrome, both mystified and coloured the image I had of my sister. Sometimes she seemed too far away to connect at all, consumed by her body that made her do things she didn’t want.

Sometimes she did things that intrigued me but could never be understood by me. For instance, not being able to carry the plates with cutlery on them to the kitchen after dinner “because she just couldn’t”. Nonetheless, we fought as fiercely as we found each other in shared obsessions, such as the holiday without our parents in Italy. Despite me not being able to predict her, she was still my little sister and I felt deeply responsible for her. It might be the type felt by each older sister, but maybe also because of her unique vulnerability. Our years in early twenties we grew more apart, as I went off to university. Dealing with my own problems, she left my mind bit by bit.

It was only at the end of my studies in human geography (a social science concerned with the spatial relationship between people and places) that suddenly it hit me: my sister’s condition had highly spatial pronunciation. With her touch tics she used the objects that made up her everyday environments in a such a specific and unique way that I decided to combine my understanding of the disorder and knowledge and skill human geography. With the research proposal she came flaming back into my life.

We went to a conference on Tourette’s in Greece where she, as subject of their study, spoke to a big room filled with people. Twice. I couldn’t be more proud of her. It was in that moment that I recognised the little girl I used to play with in her. I realised that she couldn’t have been more herself in the moment, and that the Tourette’s had never mystified and coloured her: it was me the whole time. I, as product of a society that values the normal and logical in people drastically failed in understanding the beauty in her tics and twitches. Now, my sister and I get along better than ever. She is just my sister, annoying as little sisters are, but equally as cute.

If my research is good for anything, it is in the fact that an inability to relate to a different form of humanity should invoke an openness to its capacities. Or put simply, if you can’t understand why somebody else is different, you should be open to understand what makes him/her beautiful and capable of extraordinary achievement.

Diana’s sister has been blogging for Teens4TS for more than 2 years now. Read all about her adventures here!

TS Success Stories: Jackie, 20

Would you like to share your TS story? If so, please send a private message to my Facebook page or send me an e-mail at jspershing93@gmail.com. Please answer these questions (by either typing them out or videotaping) and send a picture or two to go with it! Then I will post your story on this page!

My story! Jackie’s Life with Tourette Syndrome 

Q: What is your name and how old are you?
A: My name is Jackie, I’m 20 years old, and I’m a Junior in college.

Q: How long have you had Tourette Syndrome?
A: I’ve had Tourette Syndrome since I was 3 years old. I was misdiagnosed for a long time though and for that reason I wasn’t officially diagnosed by a neurologist until I was 17.

Q: What kinds of tics do you have?
A: I’ve had to many types of tics over the years, but right now some of my tics are facial grimacing, blinking, rolling my eyes, head jerking, punching my arms outward, hitting objects around me with my hand, sniffing, coughing, and high pitched noises.

Q: Do you have any associated conditions?
A: I have OCD, anxiety, and sensory processing issues.

Q: What is life like for you living with Tourette Syndrome?
A: Living with Tourette’s has it’s challenges. I wake up every morning knowing that I will move through may day jerking my head, rolling my eyes, hitting , and making noises among many other things, but this is my normal. When it relly comes down to it , Tourette’s has given me so much more than it has taken from me. It has given me an amazing community of people who I will never take for granted. I would have never met my amazing camp twitch and shout family, the people who I do research with, or my Tourette’s Syndrome Association friends if I didn’t have TS. Tourette’s has also given me confidence. I don’t mind explaining or answering questions and I love educating people about TS. In fact i’m going to be educating 200-400 medical school students about Tourette’s in September! Having Tourette’s is a unique experience and the opportunities that have come from having TS have enriched my life more than I would have ever known. Like one of the nurses from camp twitch and shout said “people with Tourettes are not the ones that are disabled in our society, it is the “normal” people that are handicapped in the depth and beauty of life.”

Q: What advice can you give others who are newly diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome?
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Market research study for teen Tourette patients

PLEASE NOTE: Teens4TS, the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS), and its directors and employees assume no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, objectivity or usefulness of the information that follows in this blog post. None of the stated parties endorse any part of this post. It is merely being posted here for informational purposes only at the sole discretion and responsibility of MedQuery, Inc.